Beyond Borders - a safe web space to share
I launched Beyond Borders back in 2005. In those I was teaching French and English and had no other responsibilities at the school. My Principal told me about an organisation in Europe called WKTO (standing for Work Together). The WKTO network, limited to Northern Hemisphere, used a special web space to facilitate teams of students from various countries operating in one common language (but not their maternal language).
This sounded great for my French students: a web space for them to share with other students in other places where they could communicate and collaborate.
The leaders at my school got behind the idea and set up the IT infrastructure for me. It's great at my school that new ideas and projects are supported strongly. There aren't hoops to jump through, rather a golden path is built!
The pilot project went well in 2005, and I thought "Hey ANY subject could benefit from this model!"
So I swung into action, creating:
- behaviour agreements for students
- tutorial materials for teachers
- a standardised project structure
Funding from the government via a special language innovations program was very helpful. The standardised project structure I called "Collabor8" and am still really pleased with it. Conceptually it adapts to any age and any subject.
I also started presenting on the website at conferences. My lovely awards were for Beyond Borders and this opened a lot of doors to get the word out.
We actually have 3,616 users registered now! Projects have run in all kinds of different languages with participants from lots of different countries.
With everything else I'm trying to do, Beyond Borders is quieter now than it used to be, but it is still very much available.
One thing I have learnt is that a lot of teachers will say "Yes! I will participate!" but literally only about 5% follow through, no matter how sure they were initially. This has everything to do with how busy they are, and I completely understand. I have, however, started holding back from registering teachers until I am sure they're going to follow through. Actually, I try to put barriers in people's way so I can avoid doing all the administration only to have schools drop out!!
Anyway the catalyst for blogging on this is that I am running full day training on Beyond Borders on September the 16th at my school in Sydney. We'll canvass a wide variety of ideas for using the website, everything hands-on and practical, of course! If you're keen to attend, grab the rego form from http://scil.nsw.edu.au/pd/ and send it in.
If you can't attend but want more information on Beyond Borders and the capabilities of the project infrastructure (which uses Moodle, but that's another story), have a look at this manual:
There are plenty of other courses coming up too!
Actually, if you're interested more generally in Moodle, you'll notice we're running training on the November 2nd. We've had Moodle since 2004 and it is fair to say most our teachers are experts. The guys running this course are the experts of all experts!
Look, while I'm blogging this, let me finish with a little announcement! Our Internet radio station, which I presented on at ELH a few days ago, is now available as a podcast. This morning I had no idea how to set up a podcast. It took me about 60 minutes to find the information and tutorials required and follow them until I got it working.
If you'd like to subscribe, click on the logo below and then click "Add to iTunes" or whatever other system you want to subscribe with! The show is entirely recorded, edited and produced by students! Edit: gosh I listened to the podcast this arvo on the way home and a number of the sections have been repeated. Far from perfect, but at least the ball is rolling!
Anyway, that's it for now!